|By ANN HINCH
CROSSVILLE, Tenn. — Conveniently located near middle Tennessee, the University of Tennessee Plateau Research and Education Center will host its annual Steak and Potatoes Field Day next week on Aug. 1.
So named because of the center’s concentration on cattle, vegetables and fruits, the yearly field day provides opportunity for several hundred growers and producers to gather and learn updates in their industry. Center Superintendent J. Walt Hitch said it’s been hosting the field day for a long time, but changed the name a few years ago to reflect crossover of livestock and row crops on many farms.
He believes the witty new label has invited more interest.
“You don’t argue with success,” he chuckled. “So we just held on to the name.”
Rather than centralized seminars, the morning offers concurrent learning sessions from which participants can choose. It also allows them to mix-and-match for new information on beef cattle and crop production.
Morning sessions on both topics will consist of talks about available ag enhancement funds through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). Other beef-related subjects will address use of commodities as alternative feeds, coping with increasing fertilizer costs and selection of commercial squeeze chutes. Post-lunch sessions will include breeding soundness evaluations and information on the Beef Quality Assurance program.
The morning vegetable seminars plan to address marketing and budgets, bramble production, edamame soybeans and variety updates. Because the Plateau experiment station has new greenhouse facilities, its early-afternoon session will address related production systems.
Growers with smaller farms who used to plant tobacco have largely lost out on newer contracts. Hitch explained in the interest of finding other ways to use their land, enough growers have expressed interest in greenhouse production to inspire an afternoon seminar teaching more about greenhouse feasibility and costs.
State and UT forestry and wildlife officials will also host two morning sessions related to establishing and managing wildlife food plots, and prescribed burning. Like the vegetable and beef pre-lunch sessions, each topic will consist of three “tours” for maximum participation, each beginning at 8:30, 9:45 or 11 a.m. – a farmer could conceivably attend one session each related to beef, vegetables and forestry/wildlife, if desired.
Speakers will include UT professors and researchers, as well as TDA officials and state Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries specialists. Registration and the trade show will begin at 8 a.m. CDT, and there is a sponsored lunch on-site at noon.
For more information, call 931-484-0034 or access the field day schedule online at http://plateau.tennessee.edu/ events/index.htm